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(Credit: Stephen L Harlow)


Patti Smith opens up about the loss of Sam Shepard: “I miss him terribly”


Patti Smith, The Godmother of Punk herself, has been reflecting on the impact of significant loss in her personal life and remembered her close friend and film director Sam Shepard.

Director Shepard, who was also a prolific actor, playwright, author and screenwriter, passed away in 2017 at his home in Kentucky after complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The filmmaker, who was 73-years-old, was widely celebrated for his projects such as The Right Stuff, Paris, Texas and more.

Smith, who was involved in an extramarital affair with Shepard, enjoyed a deeply passionate relationship for years in both a personal and professional capacity. Having both worked on the play titled Cowboy Mouth, Smith would also recruit Shepard to play the banjo on her much-loved cover of Nirvana song ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ which would ultimately find its way onto her album Twelve.

Now, speaking on reflection about major moments in her life as part of an interview with The Observer, the musician said: “I see Sam looking at me with a wry smile – he knew me so well – I miss him terribly,” Smith commented when asked about Shepard.

“Sam was very protective, though he understood I’m pretty tough and can handle myself,” she added. “We went through a romantic interlude but didn’t need that, we connected in so many ways. We trusted one another, respected each other’s work, had a similar sense of humour.

“We had an equal but masculine/feminine relationship which, at any age, is nice. He was like a friend but it was also like having a man in my life – for 50 years.”

Elsewhere in the conversation, Smith goes on to detail some of the most tragic periods of her life, remembering her former lover, muse and collaborator, Robert Mapplethorpe. “I handle the moment of loss better now, it is the long haul that is difficult,” she said. “Losing Robert was an enormous blow and took longer to process but I was younger. Yesterday, coincidentally, I missed him – all of a sudden – so much.

“I missed talking to him about art, the things that were bothering me, and just laughing. Some days, certain people – it becomes almost unbearable that they’re not here.”